Thursday, 8 October 2020
Estimates for Public Services 2020
I raised at the Business Committee earlier today the approval of the Revised Estimate by the arts and culture committee - I will not give it its new name as it is so long I cannot remember it. We are discussing public money and a very serious matter. The committee only signed off on the Estimates yesterday and they have come to the House today. As of this morning at least, none of us, apart from the members of the committee, has seen the Estimates and we do not know what the considerations are, yet we are being asked to push a Revised Estimate through on the nod. I take the point that these are additional expenditures for the arts and no one wants to stop additional expenditure. Some might want to see much more expenditure. However, there is a problem with the Dáil pushing through significant additional expenditures of public money on the nod without proper discussion and a report on the considerations from the committee. I do not want to hold up the business of the Dáil but I see that as a problem. It is important to underline, as was pointed out at the Business Committee today, that the option that Deputies had to attend meetings of committees of which they are not members has now effectively ceased. In the past, a Member who was not a member of a committee could still attend, listen and speak. That is no longer an option. Therefore, when it comes to Estimates and other matters arising out of committee proceedings, a whole layer of Deputies is simply excluded from the process. That is not great legislative or financial oversight.